Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Power BI Q&A feature in reports

I know I've been lazy in the last six (ok, even more) months... but things have changed around my career a little bit. Don't get me wrong, I am still doing lots of SharePoint stuff, but since last summer I also got involved in some Power BI projects. I've also started putting up a another small blog on Facebook related to my other passion, which is globetrotting.

I got really good insights in the Power BI technology during a full day workshop at the European Collaboration Summit in Zagreb, Croatia last year. Thanks to John White and Jason Himmelstein for the wonderful delivery of the content. It was transferred to hands-on experience starting the day I got back to work.

In the last 9 months, I've got my hands dirty and designed several solutions, based on Power BI reports and dashboards, with data from SharePoint, Exchange Online and other business applications.

To prove I'm seriously into this, today, I have actually passed the now official Microsoft exam:

Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Microsoft Power BI (70-778)

It was the toughest exam I've taken (no kidding!), there were a lot of DAX queries and a mix of admin and developer questions...it was a close one with a passing score of just 745.

Anyway, I wanted to give you some value with this post by telling you about a feature that got released in Power BI Desktop recently... that's the Q & A.

Even on the exam, questions to Q & A referred only to the dashboards in the Power BI service, but this feature is now also available in the reports in Power BI Desktop. Your Power BI desktop client must be at least the December 2017 version... but I recommend you get the March 2018 update.

It's a preview feature, so you'd need to enable it first. You can do that by going to File -> Options and settings -> Options -> Preview features. Tick the Q &A feature, click OK and restart Power BI desktop.

The next time you start your Power BI desktop client, you will see this:

How does the feature work? Pretty simple, you can ask questions about your data in a natural language. Just click on the canvas in Power BI desktop report view and the following visual will appear:

For example, I'll load a dataset of Projects and ask the simple questions.. ok how many are they? Rather than doing a COUNT function with DAX... and boom: I've got the answer.

Now, sometimes, you will not know the exact field name by which to search... let's say you insert a query for top client by revenue, but the field in the dataset is called customer. Here's where the synonyms come into play. I will write another post on how to get the most of those.

So... how many of you are using Power BI? Are there any of you interested on taking the exam?